Friday, September 30, 2011

Book Review: Love & Capes Volume 3 by Thom Zahler

Title: Love and Capes: Wake up Where You Are (Volume 3)
Author: Thom Zahler
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Release Date: 08/04/2011
ISBN: 1613770499

Note: I only got to read the first issue of this volume. (Sad face)

I've been a fan of Love and Capes ever since I came across it in webcomic format and it's swiftly become one of my favorite superhero comic books. I was already planning on purchasing volume 3 when it came out, so getting a little sneak preview was a bonus. Before I was merely looking forward to this volume. Now I can't wait.

Mark and Abby are home from their honeymoon and ready to settle in for some domestic bliss. But settling in doesn't mean things will settle down. Mark's best friend, Darkblade, is now dating his ex-girlfriend, Amazonia. Abby's landlord is trying to drive her and her bookstore out. And Charlotte is about to graduate from college. Plus, it's time to tell Abby's parents about Mark's super-secret, but will that mean telling Abby's brother, too? "Ever after" is where things get really interesting!

I was pretty interested in seeing what Zahler could do now that Mark and Abby are married. They were a close couple but there was a lot that they hadn't really been through just yet. Would they quickly settle down into a routine? Would the new pressures that come with (super) married life emerge? So far I was pretty impressed by how Zahler approached the idea of a superhero marrying. Abby does see a few things that only the spouse of the Crusader would experience, but overall her newlywed life is pretty mundane. This was pretty nice to read since part of why this comic appeals to me is because it doesn't go for the melodramatics that the more mainstream comics do. (Not that melodrama can't be fun, but that's not really the point of this strip.)

I also enjoyed seeing Amazonia pair up with Darkblade, the new couple in the book. It wasn't really all that surprising and the two seem to match up well so far. It'll be interesting to see how that relationship will fare, given what ultimately caused the Amazonia/Crusader breakup.

The artwork in this volume was fun and playful. Zahler has a great style that fits this universe and its characters well and he continues to deliver quality artwork here. I would love to have posted a few of my favorite bits here, but I couldn't quite get any of it to save without sacrificing picture quality. You'll have to trust me that there's some great parts in here, notably the "My Precious..." strip.

I'll try to elaborate more on volume 3 when I get my copy (preordered through Amazon, yay!), but all you really need to know is that Zahler still has it and doesn't appear to be in any danger of losing it. Love and Capes is an incredibly entertaining series that belongs on any comic book lover's bookshelf!

5 out of 5 stars

(ARC provided by Netgalley)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Book Review: The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa

Title: The Iron Knight (Iron Fey #4)
Author: Julie Kagawa
Publisher: HarlequinTeen
Release Date: 10/25/2011
ISBN: 0373210361

It's hard not to approach another Iron Fey book with a little excitement & anticipation. The last book in the series left us with a lot of odds & ends tied up, but with just enough unresolved plot to make another book a natural progression in the series. (BTW, there's going to be another series set after this book following Meghan's younger brother Ethan!) How could we not be interested in a book following Ash as he tries to find a way to be with Meghan?

Ash, former prince of the Winter Court, gave up everything. His title, his home, even his vow of loyalty. All for a girl… and all for nothing.

Unless he can earn a soul.

To cold, emotionless faery prince Ash, love was a weakness for mortals and fools. His own love had died a horrible death, killing any gentler feelings the Winter prince might have had. Or so he thought.

Then Meghan Chase—a half human, half fey slip of a girl— smashed through his barricades, binding him to her irrevocably with his oath to be her knight. And when all of Faery nearly fell to the Iron fey, she severed their bond to save his life. Meghan is now the Iron Queen, ruler of a realm where no Winter or Summer fey can survive.

With the (unwelcome) company of his archrival, Summer Court prankster Puck, and the infuriating cait sith Grimalkin, Ash begins a journey he is bound to see through to its end— a quest to find a way to honor his solemn vow to stand by Meghan’s side.

To survive in the Iron realm, Ash must have a soul and a mortal body. But the tests he must face to earn these things are impossible. At least, no one has ever passed to tell the tale.

And then Ash learns something that changes everything. A truth that turns reality upside down, challenges his darkest beliefs and shows him that, sometimes, it takes more than courage to make the ultimate sacrifice.

I'll admit that the change in narrative voices was a little hard to get used to, even though I knew to expect it. It's just not the same, seeing about the fae world through the eyes of a native & part of what I enjoyed about Meghan's narrative is that everything was so new to her. Luckily for me the book's plot would involve Ash going to places that are new & relatively unheard of even to Ash, so this never really interfered with my enjoyment of the book. It made it a little slow to get into, but this was still a very readable & enjoyable book.

It's just I just couldn't relate to Ash as a character like I could Meghan. I could read the book & be entertained, but I just didn't get as good of a "book high" with this read as I wanted to. I was able to get used to Ash's voice but I still couldn't get as excited as I wanted to be. I can't help but feel that there will probably be a few people who will read this book & be disappointed that this just doesn't have the "snap bang!" that the previous books did. There will be those who will devour this book whole & love it as much as the previous books, but I can't help but think that this book just felt a little pale in comparison to the rest of the series.

There is, however, enough interesting material brought up in this book to where readers will still be waiting for when Kagawa starts in on Ethan's story. The ideas brought up in this book as well as the possibilities of a few of the characters introduced were intriguing & despite a few reservations with Iron Knight, I still feel pretty invested in the series enough to want to pick up the next book Kagawa puts out in this universe.

3 out of 5 stars

(ARC provided by Netgalley)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Manga Review: Sailor Moon and Sailor V, volumes 1

Sailor Moon, Sailor V Volumes 1
Author: Naoko Takeuchi
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: 09/13/2011
ISBN: 1935429744
ISBN: 1935429779

If you're a manga fan like me, you've been eagerly awaiting these releases for years. Not days or months, but years. Ever since the now defunct Tokyopop lost their licence to Sailor Moon, this manga has been something that you could only find via eBay or scanned onto the internet. Sailor V never got an official release, so you could really only hope to find an untranslated copy or hope that a scanlated copy got released from someone. Now you don't have to wait anymore. Kodansha has released Takeuchi's most famous work to the English speaking audience.

Art-wise, these books are absolutely gorgeous. One look at the covers should show you that you're in for a treat. I don't have any scans of the new translations, but the artwork has been cleaned up for this reprint. It's been a while since I've seen the Tokyopop translation, so at some point I'm going to have to find a copy to compare it to. (Or look for pictures that people have posted on the net.)

Story-wise, the Sailor Moon volume was stronger than the Sailor V manga was. I'm sort of chalking this up to the Sailor V manga being more of a sporadic release than the Sailor Moon story was. One thing that's absolutely cool about reading the Sailor V manga was seeing how Takeuchi began to brainstorm characters and designs for Sailor Moon as well as to see the gradual change in how the series was presented. Over time the Sailor V manga started changing to show it as a prequel to Sailor Moon. (Sailor V started before Sailor Moon started being made, but continued to be sporadically released while Sailor Moon was running.) It's a glimpse into Takeuchi's thought processes and it's incredibly fun to see which designs made it into Sailor Moon and which ones didn't.

Translation-wise this is much more faithful than the Tokyopop/Mixx translations and fans who have poured over the TP releases will instantly notice a few translation differences. One thing that I couldn't help but notice was that while the translation was more faithful, it's just a little clunky. I loved that there were honorifics in here, but I'd be lying if I said that the honorifics occasionally hurt more than they helped. One such instance is the usage of "Princess-Sama", which just seemed a little redundant and clunky. I have to admit that I'd almost prefer that the honorifics were dropped entirely for flow reasons, although at times they do help to show some character interactions a little better.

This is something that I'd absolutely recommend for any Sailor Moon or Takeuchi fan as well as any fan of shoujo manga. It's worth looking at for the nostalgia value as well as to get a gander at the series that introduced a lot of the American and English speaking audience to anime and manga as a whole. (Sailor Moon was the first television series I watched where I knew that I was watching anime.)

4 out of 5 stars for both volumes

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Yay for contests: Hush, Hush and Sea Lion Books!

Hi everyone! My posts have been a little erratic due to school and a little someone called Irene playing havoc with my electronics, but I'm happy to give you some info on a comic that I think is going to be a "must own" for me.

Like Hush, Hush? Well, I know that I do and I'm pretty excited to see that it's getting the graphic novel treatment. I'm also pretty excited to hear that Sea Lion Books is doing a contest so awesome that I'm just going to post what they wrote word for word since I don't think I could do it without giving a huge fangirl squee.

Did you miss out on the signed graphic novel and 2011 books that bite
purse? Well don't be sad for we are doing it AGAIN and this time it's
BIGGGGGGEEERRRRRR and BEEETTTTTTTEEERRRR. In celebration of the upcoming
release! We thought a graphic novel this epic deserved something extra

On our store tab ( ) you can purchase the
limited edition Hush Hush graphic novel prologue for $10.00. WE WILL ONLY
So not only is this an important piece to the contest puzzle but you will
be one of a thousand people to own this piece of Becca Fitzpatrick's
history!!! Keep in mind since there are only 1,000 copies of the prologue
being made we need to limit the number of copies you can purchase. It is
limited to 2 copies per person.

Now here is the fun part! Once you receive the book, take a picture of
yourself with it and email the picture to us along with a paragraph as to
why you should be the next to make a cameo in the next volume of Hush Hush!
In this cameo you will even interact with Patch and Nora. NOW REMEMBER I
WHY! The winner will not only get to interact with Patch and Nora in the
next Hush Hush Graphic Novel, BUT the illustrator for the graphic novel
will also IMMORTALIZE you from head to toe in Patch's arms! Your image
will be held lovingly safe in his arms! How awesome is that!!!


1. 1,000 limited edition prologues will be available for sale on Limit 2 please!

2. Once you receive the Hush Hush prologues you must take a picture of
yourself with it and post the picture on our FB page with a paragraph in
the comments under the picture as to why they should be the next to make a
cameo in the next volume of Hush Hush!

3. The winner gets an interacting cameo with Patch and Nora in Hush Hush
volume 2, and they get a unique one-of-a-kind poster with Patch holding the
winner in his arms.

4. The limited edition prologues will ship the first week of October.

I'm so excited over this that I could scream. I loved the heck out of Hush, Hush and the possibility of getting a picture drawn of Patch (let alone one of me with him) is pretty freaking cool. (OK, so I'm no longer a teenager, but Patch is far older than I am. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.)

Click on the beautiful graphic novel cover above for a direct link to the sale page!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Book Review: No One to Trust by Julie Moffett

Title: No One To Trust (Lexi Carmichael #2)
Author: Julie Moffett
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: 06/13/2011

After having read Moffett's previous book in the LC series, I was pretty excited to give the second entry a try. There was just something addicting about Lexi's adventures that keept drawing me back in and I'm glad to say that entry #2 is no exception.

SWFG: Single, White, Female, Geek.

That’s me, Lexi Carmichael, a reformed hacker who was gainfully employed by the National Security Agency. But a series of extraordinary events led me to leave government life behind for a fresh start with a brand-new company and an incredibly sexy boss, Finn Shaughnessy. It may not be kosher to have the hots for your boss, but he seems to have the hots for me, too. If only things didn’t get so complicated…

Darren Greening, a genius researcher from Flow Technologies (our first client!) is missing, and his bosses think I’m involved. And they aren’t the only ones—the man who nearly snapped my neck in the parking garage thinks so, too.

Now I’m caught in the middle of a complex and dangerous case. I’ll have to use all my geek skills and a little help from my friends to solve the mystery of Darren’s disappearance before Neck-Snapping-Man makes a return visit…

I don't know much about the hacking world, but I do know that I enjoyed this book greatly. I love Lexi and I love the situations she gets herself into. She's a feisty heroine and we finally get to see her hands get a little dirtier than they did in the previous novel, which I enjoyed. One of my gripes with the first novel was that Lexi did little of her own hacking work, which isn't the case in this book. Lexi does just as much as the next person in this mystery.

The love interests are pretty sexy as well and are developing pretty well at this stage. I have my own personal favorites as far as who Lexi should end up with (Team Zimmerman!), but Lexi's reasoning for who she likes and what she is or isn't going to do is pretty realistic. There's also a decent amount of competition and/or other barriers keeping her from each guy, giving good reason to draw out the tension for just a little bit longer. (As long as it doesn't get as ridiculously drawn out as the Stephanie Plum love triangle has, I'm good with this.)

I will say that the mystery does move quickly and at times the plot seemed to move a little too quickly, not giving me as much time as I'd have wanted on some issues. I can't elaborate without getting spoilerish, but let's just say that there were some issues I wanted to linger on a little longer as far as the missing researcher goes. You get a good sense of what is what and I didn't end the book feeling unsatisfied, but it all seemed to get wrapped up a little too quickly for me. This isn't really a gripe, just more of an observation since it didn't really get in the way of my reading experience that much.

Overall this book was awesome to read and I can't wait to get my hot little hands on the next book in the series. It's honestly a shame that these are only in ebook format at this point in time since I think they'd sell well in paperback format.

5 out of 5 stars

(ARC provided by Netgalley)